10 Things I Wish I Knew Before Having A Baby
There are lots of unknowns in the momhood and parenting world, some you naturally figure out on your own, while others you pick up from hearing stories, reading blogs and receiving (sometimes) unsolicited advice. I'd like to share a mix of things I've learned along the way from good 'ole experience, and things I wish someone had told me! So in no particular order, here we go:
Self-Care Will Look Different
Be resourceful and set things up. Especially with COVID, bringing home a baby your daily activities will naturally shift. AND THAT'S OKAY. What isn't okay, is forgetting to care for yourself. Girl.... been there, done that... still doing it. It catches up to you QUICK, and playing catch-up when you are burnt out is twice the battle than simply maintaining a sustainable self-care routine. Drink plenty of water, find your playlist, and move your body. Joy can be found in and created with simplicity.
Sleep-Hydration-Nutrition is a 3-ringed Circus
You are no good to anyone if you don't care for your basic needs. People always spoke about the sleep deprivation aspect of newborn life/first year. And to be honest.. you'd be surprised with what you can do with little sleep. Here's my take away on sleep: sleep deprivation comes in cycles, baby sleep is controversial and ever-changing, sleep is overrated AND also a necessity. Fuelling your body has never been more important than now. Hydrate yourself, eat nutrient-rich food, prioritize sleep when it needs to be. It's hard to juggle - what seems like simple, basic tasks- but try your best to find a rhythm or lean on your support circle to ensure your needs are met. Nap if you want to, clean the house if you want to, binge your shows if you want to.
Breastfeeding is a Hard AF
There are many reasons why breastfeeding may not be in your momhood experience... all valid.. you do you boo-boo. I'm going to speak on my experience, thoughts and opinions. Before having a baby, breastfeeding seemed effortless to me (I guess koodos to the mommas for making it seem just that). It's a time-consuming, tiring and super cool experience. There is a learning curve for both baby and mom and can certainly feel like you are doing the lion share of things... and when it comes to nurturing your baby.. you kinda are. Dads help in LOTS of different ways, and hard work looks differently for different roles within the family...and that being said, breastfeeding mommas.. I see you. It takes a lot of work, commitment, sacrifice and awareness. For me, the benefits heavily outway the drawbacks. I'm thrilled to say we have been successful in breastfeeding for all nine and a half months (and counting).
Postpartum Hair Loss is NO JOKE
I always heard about this.. but never really understood the magnitude of hair you loose. I'm sure everyone is different, but my hair was coming out in the mittfuls. At around three months pp I noticed it starting to fall out.. and I would say it consistently fell out until around six months. IT WAS INSANE. I was convinced all my hair would be gone by the new year. Now I'm rocking the baby hairs surrounding the entirety of my face.
5. Waters Breaking isn't the Same for Everyone
Yes everyone says when your water breaks it isn't like the movies... but then no one says what it is like. I know there are a few different ways your water can break.. and I think mine was more of a water leaking scenario. It wasn't a gush of water that flooded my bathroom floor but rather a never-ending, continuous stream of liquid just POURING OUT OF ME. LMAO. I didn't feel or hear a pop, in fact I didn't even know if it truly was my waters breaking or I just peed myself. HAHA. I was on the phone with my mom (on my due date), running a bath for myself. And then it happened. I had no contractions, two stretch and sweeps done within the last two weeks, and noticed my belly had dropped.. but in no pain or discomfort. I remember telling my mom in such a calm and questionable way.. "hmmm I think my water just broke? Maybe I peed? It didn't feel like I peed.. I would know if I peed right? There isn't a lot of water on the floor. Hold on Mom, I'll send you a picture. Maybe I should smell it? It doesn't smell like pee.. it's also clear. Hmmm... Well I guess I won't take a bath quite yet.". Then I walked out of the bathroom... and water just kept flowing out... just like a faucet... that wouldn't turn off HAHA. Like I was just peeing myself straight. My mom convinced me to call my MIL so someone near to me knew what was going on (my mom lives out of town), while I began tidying the house, getting myself ready, having a snack... and THEN calling my husband. ahahah. I was so chill. TRUE STORY: I used more pads for my water breaking than PP blood loss. Girl... the process of my water breaking LITERALLY went on for like 12+ hours. My waters broke at 11:00am ish June 26 and Beau was born a 11:07am June 27. Every time I would move, my pad would get SOAKED. It was really funny to me because it was SO unexpected, and I was so shook with how much water (or really amniotic fluid) is in there. I wish I knew that. Made for a good laugh (for everyone) that's for sure.
6. To Nurture Your Momtuition
Listen Linda, there is a learning curve FOR. EVERY. ONE. Your momtuition will slowly get stronger, louder and clearer as time goes on. Everyone is learning, everyone is messing up and everyone is just trying their best. Obviously consult your family doc, read up if you'd like AND lean into that gut feeling of momtuition if something feels off. Nurture that feeling, listen to it, explore it and in no time you'll learn you can trust yourself far more than you ever expected. Also... it doesn't hurt to to listen to others stories (like mine, or a friends), but it does hurt to compare. We hear it a million times, and sometimes you need to hear it once more: every baby is different, every momma is different and everyone learns, grows, develops, teaches, parents and disciplines differently. Comparison truly is the thief of joy.
7. Ask and Accept Help
Ohhhhhh does this one ever strike a chord with me. Call it ego, sense of responsibility, over-achiever/first-born syndrome, or simply preference, but this has always (and maybe) will always be difficult for me. Not only do I believe it's my responsibility to nurture and care for my family, but more predominately I desire to be the one to do it. However, I have worked tremendously hard to recognize the EARLY signs of burnout/fatigue in order to maintain my well-being instead of chasing after it. I want to be the best mom, and sometimes the best mom thing the do is to take a step back, ask for help and ACCEPT said help, so that I can return a rejuvenate and renewed momma-bear. It's a work in progress... I'm a work in progress. But I'm trying.
8. Labour is the Coolest, Baddest B*tch in the House
OOOOOHHH MOMMA. I flipping LOVED labour. All my pregnant mommas out there.. I AM SO EXCITED FOR YOU.. dare I say even jealous of you? I donno.. I'm a strange one. It was excruciating.. but like SO COOL. I talk more in-depth on my labour here but briefly said.. it's so cool. SO SO SO COOL. I don't want to ill-prepare anyone BUT I feel like no one talks about labour in a positive light. SO I'm letting this light SHINEEEEEE. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it may feel like you are actually dying. Yes, it's painful. Yes, it feels like it never ends. BUT YES, YOU CAN DO IT. YES, YOUR BODY IS CAPABLE OF IT. YES, you're filled with adrenaline. YES, it's like winning a gold medal at the olympics (which I can only imagine feels indescribable). YES, you appreciate your body, your partner, your team, your mother, your baby. YES, it forces you to lean into uncomfortable situations and learn you can overcome it. YES, it teaches you shit is both hard and worth it. YES, its fun! You find humour in things, you're excitement and nerves create a magic that can not only be felt but seen. My goodness... I'm in the wrong profession. Labour is bomb-ass.
9. You Will Find Your Groove
If you're bored, chances are so is your baby. Waiting around for the next nap makes for a long, boring, restless day. Get outside, play together, make a fort, play in the tub, read some books and find some kind of structure to your day that feels good to you. Once you find your groove, you have the ability to conquer your day, rain or shine.
10. Understand Wake Windows and Cues
I WISHHHHH I knew this information before having a baby. It would have saved a lot of frustration for everyone in the early weeks. A crying baby (I'm generalizing here) has likely already told you one too many times their need. Brushing up on age-appropriate wake windows and sleepy/hunger cues allows you to hear you baby BEFORE the cries. Your little one is telling you and communicating to you the best they can, we just often miss those signs. Feeding a fussy baby is next to impossible and trying to soothe an overtired baby sucks. TakingCaraBabies talks LOTS about wake windows, sleepy/hunger cues and SO MUCH MORE. HIGHLY recommend you check her blog/instagram out.
It was more challenging than I thought to categorize these points. There has been lots about momhood that has been exactly how I imagined it to be; challenging, fun, exhausting and rewarding. I want to highlight the true experiences within motherhood without the heavy dark cloud that is often left on stories. Maybe this shines some light on some of the unknowns you may wondered about. This momhood thing is a pretty cool gig.
All my love,